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Is addiction growing in the Jewish community?

This article was originally published on Arutz Sheva on November 17, 2016.

A special conference devoted to the subject of addictions within the Jewish community will take place in Brooklyn, New York in December. The conference is sponsored by the MASK (Mothers and Fathers Aligned Saving Kids) organization which aids parents of at-risk children and the Jewish Press, and will focus on Victor Frankl’s approach based on man’s search for meaning in life.

Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and eminent psychiatrist, maintained that his survival and that of some of his peers was not necessarily due to physical capabilities but had more to do with their ability to find meaning in their lives .

According to Frankl, striving to find a meaning in one’s life is the most powerful motivating and driving force in humans. He developed a training method called logotherapy, in which he posited that: Life has meaning under all circumstances – even the most miserable ones – and that our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life. Further, we have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.

The conference will discuss whether a lack of meaning in people’s lives fuel addiction, as well as how Frankl’s method can help people find meaning in their lives. it will also assess whether internet and drug or alcohol addictions are growing within the Jewish community and how these addictions can be overcome.

Speakers include: Rabbi Dr. Reuven Bulka – “The Psychology of Viktor Frankl and Man’s Search for Meaning” (Logotherapy Training), Rabbi Simon Jacobson – “Towards a Meaningful Life”, and Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, LMFT – “Torah Psychology”, Lewis Abrams, LCSW – “Recovering from Drug and Alcohol Addiction”, Simcha Feuerman, LCSW – “Internet Addiction Recovery Options: Musar, Psychotherapy, 12 Steps?”

Rabbi Dr. Reuven Bulka will help participants experience an in-depth Logotherapy training on discovering meaning in their lives through actualizing their ability to create, love, experience the world and, if necessary, find meaning in suffering. Rabbi Bulka will share his personal stories of Viktor Frankl and discuss themes relating to Judaism and beliefs in one’s life. A panel of religious experts, will explore the Torah sources that can help strengthen people’s faith and trust in G-d, which are the keys in overcoming many addictive behaviors.

Medical treatments for addicts and training on how to use them will be provided by MASK. There will also be a presentation of the work of Guard Your Eyes, a website which helps people maintain moral purity while surfing the internet.

According to Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, family therapist and founder and director of Torah Psychology, the conference is geared for the general public, lay leaders and therapists. “I have treated many people who felt depressed or anxious or have developed various kinds of addiction because they were lacking a higher purpose. Victor Frankl’s writings and Logotherapy can provide that vital missing piece in their lives” says Schonbuch.

The Meaningful Life Center